When we think of fame, we think of the struggling artist who has climbed the ladder of success one rung at a time. Instafame seekers circumvent that process. Their metric is likes, follows and retweets and their claim to fame – an Internet connection and a clever hashtag. Instafamous youth often have thousands (upon thousands) of strangers following them - liking their posts, negotiating shout-outs for digital mentions. Instafamers’ talent appears to be an ability to convert time into audience.
Of course that online fame – questionable as it might be – can also mean monetary gain. Some youth with large followings are being paid by companies to advertise their products. They’re also being sent gifts from fans. For some youth, fame online can kick-start a successful career. Musicians and comedians are regularly discovered online thanks in large part to a loyal, organic fan base.
Online fame can also have negative consequences. Bullying and hate often accompany fame. The majority of comments below pictures are often spammy, hateful or overtly sexual, all of which can be traumatizing for a young teenage boy or girl.
Online fame can also cause stress. Building an online persona and converting that persona into a brand - is a full-time job leaving little time for real-world relationships and activities. To maintain their instafame, youth must update their social media daily, ensuring it’s dynamic and interesting enough to maintain viewers’ interest. That can be a lot of pressure.